Alcohol And Drug Addiction Treatment And Support In Dubai


Dr. Annette Schonder
Psychologist, Sociologist,
American Board
Certified Clinical Counselor
Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist
Phone: 00971-4-4574240

What is Alcoholism and Drug Addiction?

Alcohol addiction (alcoholism) or drug addiction is a disorder and cannot be addressed with the too often heard words, “Why Don’t You Just Stop?”  It is a complex disease that requires professional treatment by counselors and addiction specialists.

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Here is why:

Once addiction has occurred permanent changes to the brain take place. Simply put, the “off switch” is broken.  More scientifically expressed: The intricate neural chemical feedback system between the pleasure reward system in the mid-brain and the decision making part of the brain (the ventral medial prefrontal cortex/the part of the brain that is located behind the forehead) is no longer intact.  This means that an addict will not be able to consume alcohol or drugs in a controlled way but will always seek more.  Hence, to remain in recovery it is absolutely essential not to use any intoxicating (mind altering) substances.

The Concept of Recovery in Alcohol and Addiction Treatment:

A qualified counselor can provide addiction treatment, and is able to help with and facilitate recovery through rehabilitation and counseling services.  Recovery means more than abstaining from alcohol and drugs.  It is a process during which an individual, with the help of a counselor,  learns to control seemingly overwhelming feelings, re-builds his/her self-esteem, learns to think in healthy ways, and acquires coping skills to deal with the world he lives in.  It’s all about having control over one’s emotions, creating balance in life and a sense of inner peace.  Living in an aware and balanced state is what treatment professionals call “recovery.”  It is considered a life-long process.

Are there Support Groups for Alcohol and Drug Addiction in Dubai? 

There are recovery support groups in Dubai.  The two support groups relating to chemical addiction (alcoholism and drug addiction) are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)  and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

The quote below, from the AAGRAPEVINE, will shed some light on the idea and goals of the self-support group:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Why are AA and NA an Important Part of Alcohol and Drug Treatment?

The answer is:  It is an effective addiction treatment method. As a matter of fact, in California, 3 hours of support group attendance counts as 1 hour of therapy in court mandated drug and alcohol treatment.  Furthermore, anecdotal reports and scientific studies show lower rates of relapse among individuals in treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction who attend AA or NA regularly.

What is the purpose of the meeting?

–          To listen and to learn.

–          To share about each other’s problems, the addiction, recovery and challenges.

–          To get a sponsor (a support person)

How do I Find a Support Group for Alcohol and Drug Addiction in Dubai?

The following link provides information for people seeking help for alcoholism in Dubai:

This link provides information for people seeking help for drug addiction in Dubai:

What Role does a Sponsor Play in AA or NA? 

A sponsor is someone with whom the newcomer will build a relationship that supports his recovery.  A sponsor can be called in a crisis, or if someone needs support to remain sober. The sponsor helps the new member to go through the 12 steps program.

How do you Get a Sponsor in Dubai?

When you attend a support meeting for alcohol or drugs in Dubai, you simply state in the meeting that you needs a sponsor.  Typically, someone will come up at the end of the meeting and offer sponsorship.  At some meetings available sponsors will be asked to raise their hand.  If – for different reasons – the newcomer does not connect with a particular person as a sponsor, this should be communicated at the meetings. There will be always other suitable candidates ready to take over.

Are there any Requirements to Participate in the 12 steps Program in Dubai? 

The only thing required is that the alcoholic or drug addict has a desire to stop using, and  attendees are obliged to observe strict confidentiality and anonymity.  There are no membership fees.

What are the 12 AA steps for Alcohol Treatment?

Here are the 12 steps listed quoted from the Alcoholics Anonymous Website:

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


What is a “Home Group” and How does it Help with Alcohol and Drug Treatment?

According to the AA Grapevine (journal) the home group is enormously helpful with alcohol and drug addiction:

“The home group is called the heartbeat of AA, where we are loved until we can love ourselves.” (  Traditionally, most A.A. members through the years have found it important to belong to one group which they call “Home Group.” This is the group where they accept responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. And although all A.A. members are usually welcome at all groups and feel at home at any of these meetings, the concept of the “Home Group” has still remained the strongest bond between the A.A. member and the Fellowship. ( 

How are Family Members and Friends Affected by Someone’s Alcohol or Drug Addiction?

It is important for the loved ones of alcoholics and drug addicts to get help and learn as much as they can about the addiction treatments.  It is advisable to see a counselor or addictions specialist to gain more insights into the disease of addiction and to attend a self-help group.  The more they understand about this disorder, the better they will understand what the alcoholic or drug addict are going through.   When one person in the family is getting help and treatment for his/her addiction, it is important for those involved in relationships with the addict to begin their own journey of personal growth.  The underlying reason for this is to begin healing the hurt and to be able to jointly move forward in healthy way.

A very important resource for family members/friends is Al-Anon.

What is the Role of Al-Anon in Treatment for Addictions in Dubai?

Al-Anon is based on the same principles (i.e. meetings, 12 Steps, sponsorship etc.) of AA.

The purpose of this group is to give those who are in relationships with addicts an opportunity to get support from individuals in the same kind of situation.

One of the main lessons new members learn is that a family member cannot make the addict better.  Only the addict can make the decision to rehabilitate and work on his/her sobriety program.

The other important lesson many learn is to STOP enabling the addict to continue his/her alcohol and drug addiction by covering for them, giving them money, or providing a place to stay.

Do continue to love the addict, but do not do anything that supports the addiction, or removes negative consequences. Many in Al-Anon call this, “Though love.”

See this link for Al-Anon meetings in Dubai:

Any contact persons listed on any of the AA based support group websites will be more than happy to help. This is the strength of the fellowship to be supportive of anyone in recovery, or anyone who wishes to stop abusing alcohol or drugs.

Desiderata, poem by Max Ehrmann, 1972